Dodger Peak 50K....Solo

There is a great need in me to be in the mountains running.  I am considering doing a 50K distance at least once a week for as long as I feel the need. It's in the works.  I may not be doing it in the mountains every week, but I'd like to make it to the real mountain trails at least 1-2 times a month.   Meaning I am putting  it out there and letting everything fall into place.  It will mean getting a little less sleep once a week to get up before the crack of dawn and run.  I'm at the point where this is a very exciting idea.

Last weekend I made it to the Olympic Peninsula to do a solo 30 +/- mile roundtrip run up to Dodger Point, 5,700 feet elevation.  The run began at Whiskey Bend near the Elwa River.  The Elwa River access is a little west of Port Angeles on Route 101.   I wondered how a solo run 15 miles out on a remote single track trail woud go...anything could happen out there. 

I wore my nathan Hydration pack filled with gatorade (I usually use Nuun but didn't plan ahead).  The pack carries 70 oz of water.  I also carried two hand bottles with regular water.  I had to carry enough water for the entire run, as I did not know whether there would be any out on the trail. Then I packed some energy gels, two bananas, and a peanut butter Clif bar.

As it turned out there were a few little streams, but I did not need to refill my water bottles.  I only needed 1 gel, 1 Clif Blocks energy chews, 2 bananas, and the Clif bar. I am trying to use as few gels as possible.  I really prefer real food like bananas, although they are bulkier. 

The run took me 6 hours, which included stopping to take photos all along the way, and a few stretching stops.  Couldn't resist photographing the trail and this happened to be the first time I brought my Blackberry on a run with me.  I am guessing that the overall elevation gain would be between 5,000 and 6,000 feet.  The trail begins rather innocently for the first 3 miles, rolling up and down with views of the Elwa River and treed hills.  It is beautiful! 

After you cross the bridge over the Elwa the trail begins to climb and doesn't stop until you reach the top of Dodger Peak.  There are a number of flat-ish parts, but the trail just keeps gradually going up~ up~ up.  There are no downhill parts, none, after the bridge.  Let me explain: the grade is mellow enough that you don't feel like you can use it as an excuse to walk, but if you look behind you the trail slants down considerably.  Do this for 12 miles and you will want to--Ahhhh! It's a playful scream.  I do enjoy running uphill, but I really looked forward to the run back!

The run back turned out to be a blast!  I cruised quickly down the mountain jumping trees, dodging branches, dancing through rocky stretches, and spinning through the corners.  There is a long section of switchbacks that is a lot of fun. 

Here are some pictures from the trail:
driving form Port Townsend to the Trail, about 1.5 to 2 hours from PT, picture taken in Port Angeles during sun rise.
Almost there....
the 'before', about to head out on the trail
About 1 mile down the trail, getting too warm already, time to ditch the long sleeves
first view of the Elwa River
Bridge marks the spot: the trail starts going up from here
I've been running uphill for a while now, looks like I'm getting higher baby!
trees are looking a little gnarly

And higher, baby!
Rockier...
definitely looking more alpine
okay I arrived in heaven
At this point I was about 1 mile from Dodger Point
Cabin marks the spot, the top!
Some snow at the top
View from the top
Another view from the top
Me at the top
Post Run Chicken Tortilla Soup, Thanks Jake!!! Yum! And beer of course. 

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